Working from home DOESN’T work, says PM Boris Johnson

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Read Time:4 Minute, 26 Second
  • Boris Johnson has in interview slammed out-of-office culture across Whitehall 
  • The PM has said full workplaces will be ‘more productive’ and ‘more energetic’ 
  • It comes as he says 50 ‘illegal entrants’ will be sent to Rwanda in fortnight

Working from home doesn’t work, Boris Johnson declares today as he calls for a return to the office.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, the Prime Minister says full workplaces will lift productivity and revive town and city centres.

Taking a swipe at the out-of-office culture that has taken hold across Whitehall, he adds: ‘My experience of working from home is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.’

He claims staff are ‘more productive, more energetic, more full of ideas’ when surrounded by colleagues. He says: ‘I believe in the workplace environment.

‘And I think that will help to drive up productivity, it will get our city centres moving in the weekdays and it will be good for mass transit. And a lot of businesses that have been having a tough time will benefit from that.’

In the wide-ranging interview, the Prime Minister also vows to change the law if ‘Leftie lawyers’ obstruct plans to send Channel migrants to Rwanda.

He says that he is ready to ‘dig in for the fight’ against those seeking to block ‘the will of the people’.

Mr Johnson reveals that the first 50 ‘illegal entrants into this country’ have already been served notice that they will be sent to Rwanda within a fortnight.

But Government sources say they are braced for a blizzard of legal claims under human rights laws.

Asked whether he might respond with a review of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Johnson replies: ‘We’ll look at everything. Nothing is off the table.’

In other developments:

  • Unions threatened strike action over plans to axe 91,000 civil servants;
  • The PM warned EU leaders he was ‘not bluffing’ over moves to tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol;
  • He predicted Britain could avoid a recession, despite gloomy economic data;
  • A consultation was launched on increasing the number of children who can be cared for by a minder, in a bid to cut costs;
  • Ministers agreed to delay a ban on supermarket promotions of unhealthy food;
  • Mr Johnson warned Vladimir Putin to ‘find a way out’ of the war in Ukraine;
  • He hinted he is considering a drive to persuade over-50s to return to the workplace.

Ministers are locked in a struggle with Civil Service unions over the working from home culture in Whitehall.

Tens of thousands of officials are required to attend the workplace for only two or three days a week, and unions are resisting a full return.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case is expected to launch a major push on the issue in the coming weeks, amid concerns that failure to return to the office will damage long-term productivity.

Ministers have blamed large-scale working from home for the huge backlogs built up at the Passport Office and DVLA.

The PM says flexible working has a role to play but will damage productivity and creativity if allowed to become the norm.

He says he is ‘not antediluvian about technology…things like Zoom and Teams can increase productivity, rather than just be an excuse for people to stay at home.’

But he adds: ‘We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office. There will be lots of people who disagree with me, but I believe people are more productive, more energetic, more full of ideas, when they are surrounded by other people.’

Members of the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, this week said work was ‘no longer a place’ and urged ministers to drop ‘indiscriminate demands… for civil servants to return to office-based working’.

Jacob Rees-Mogg yesterday warned the calls from unions could lead to employers ‘offshoring’ their staff.

The Brexit opportunities minister told LBC Radio: ‘It’s a very privileged thing to say – for people in manufacturing, work is a place, for people cleaning work is a place, for security work is a place, for millions of people across this country work is a place.

‘The idea that civil servants should swan off abroad to do their job is slightly giving the game away, that this isn’t about efficiency, this is about lifestyle.

‘Unless of course the FDA means that they’d like us to go for offshoring, but I’d be very surprised if a Left-wing trade union thought the answer to problems was sourcing cheaper labour overseas.’

The PM’s plan to send potentially thousands of Channel migrants to Rwanda is designed to smash the business model of people-smuggling gangs by breaking the link between boarding a dinghy in France and achieving a new life in Britain.

The plan has provoked howls of protest from the Left. Legal claims against the initiative have been lodged at the High Court before removals have even begun.

But the Prime Minister says he is determined to drive the plan forward

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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EFCC arrests Ahmed Idris, Accountant General for alleged N80b fraud

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Read Time:1 Minute, 34 Second

Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have been arrested by serving Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Ahmed Idris, in connection with the diversion of funds and money laundering activities to the tune of N80 billion.

He was arrested yesterday in Kano State and was immediately moved to Abuja last night. EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed the arrest in a statement. He said the funds were allegedly laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja.

“The Commission’s verified intelligence showed that the AGF raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates,” Uwujaren said.

According to sources, after progress was made in the investigation, Idris was summoned repeatedly by EFCC for interrogation, but he failed to honour the invitations.

“We kept inviting him, but he kept dodging us. We were left with no choice but to keep him under watch and arrest him,” the source said.

President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Idris as AGF on June 25, 2015. The position became vacant at the time after the former Accountant General, Jonah Otunla, left office on June 12, 2015.

President Buhari reappointed Idris for a second four-year term in June 2019, amid criticisms from labour groups, who said the accountant-general should retire after turning 60.

A source said the AGF should have retired more than a year ago as a civil servant, “but when he clocked 60, the President’s men caused an extension. Now see the result of an illegal extension. It was the same time the tenure of Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) was extended too by the President against public service rule.”

Idris, a native of Kano, was born on November 25, 1960, and was until his appointment in 2015 the Director of Finance and Accounts, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigerian households are experiencing some of the fastest urbanisation rates in the world

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Read Time:36 Second

Nigerian households are experiencing some of the fastest urbanisation rates in the world, as workersare flocking to expanding first- and second-tier cities across the country. This is creating a large and growing number of single-person households, largely inhabited by males. However, many Nigerian homes are also extremely crowded, as large families squeeze into small housing units. Room sizes per household are typically low in number, while persons per household are usually six or more’, Households Specialist Pavel Marceux.

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About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Economic Mismanagement and a Bag of Rice

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Read Time:4 Minute, 23 Second

Much as I appreciate what the media has done by publicising the speech delivered by Dr Oby Ezekwesili at the Inaugural Business Lecture of the Lagos Country Club, I am still not quite certain about what that speech hoped to achieve. You see, Dr Ezekwesili did a fine job of detailing the current issues in the country, she even took it a step further by saying the problem did not begin with President Buhari’s government, but had been brewing when Goodluck Jonathan was in office. The former minister explained how bad policies had led to this downward spiral we now call ‘recession’.

Donning her advocacy cap, she called on the citizenry to ‘convict’ the government to retrace its steps and to sit up. At that point, I knew that this speech was a dud. I must hand it to her though that she is a great communicator. Anyone who is able to analyse their audience and feed them what they want to hear is great, really. I mean, delivered in Lagos Country Club, I’m sure she would have received a rousing ovation. But, take that same speech to the market place, to the homes of those who have lost their jobs, to the pockets of those who have yet to receive their salaries and they would ask, “how does this speech affect the cost of a bag of rice?” When Jonathan was president, how much was a bag of rice?

Not too long ago, there was an odd sort of ‘campaign’ that took social media by storm in Nigeria. It was a #BringBackOurCorruption campaign. As painful as it was and still is to read those words, they were emblematic of the mindset of most people at the time. So, you say the problems started with Jonathan? The average individual would tell you that at least they were able to feed, take care of their families and maintain a reasonable lifestyle. This wasn’t so much an advocacy for corruption, it was more of a pun. If you say Jonathan was bad and corrupt but things were reasonably better for the average individual, then bring back the so-called corruption. It was that simple. When you think of it, nothing makes much sense to a hungry man. But when he is fed, when he has something to go home to at the end of the day, and a reason to rise early and the start of the next day, then you can have some support for your crusade.

On the matter of her allegations that the economy was mismanaged or defunct, need we be reminded that when Jonathan was president people got paid, they could eat, the economy grew at 4 percent, and inflation was at 9 percent? Beyond that, the Nigerian youth graduated with high hopes for jobs as a result of the GIS Scheme and the support of private companies that were springing up everywhere. Those who had decided to be entrepreneurs also got the support of the same government through the YouWIN Initiative. Even as oil prices fell and then finance minister, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, recommended belt-tightening measures, it was clear that the government was not prepared to have the poor suffer more at the expense of the rich. If that indeed was mismanagement, then we may very well declare that this present government has sent our economy on a suicide mission from which there is very little hope of return.

 

Looking at the figures Dr Ezekwesili presented at her speech, it is certainly true that the growth percentage dropped, but with active management the economic team managed to keep the economy on positive growth path. What do we have now?  An abdication of economic management. The government clearly has decided to ‘wing it’. Even former president Obasanjo, under whom Ezekwesili herself served, advised them to focus their energies on more productive concerns and stop the blame game. Nigerians are not deceived. The actions of the current Administration clearly show their ineptitude and absolute lack of intellectual content.

The former Minister of Education also noted that both governments; the present and immediate past, failed to adopt the right policies to deal with the crash in crude oil prices, which began in mid-2014. How is she any different from the current government she is so eager to accuse? When you relish pin-pointing problems without proffering any cogent or actionable solution, you are ineffectually saying that you don’t know the answers. And if you don’t know the answers, could you try and give us a breather? We have been on this ‘whodunnit’ merry-go-round for far too long. When are we going to stop saying who did what, or who should have done what and actually get something done? If Mrs Ezekwesili has answers, she may as well start spitting them out. And by answers, I mean something more than a clamour to begin another advocacy group.

The way I see it, we will need more than a #BringBackOurEconomy hashtag to get back what we have lost.

Undung Pam is a social commentator contributing from Jos, Plateau State.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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National Lottery Commission generates N5bn in 10 years

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Read Time:4 Minute, 30 Second

The National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC) says it has remitted over N5 billion to the National Lottery Trust Fund (NLTF) in the past 10 years of its operation for execution of people oriented projects.

 The Director General of the Commission, Mr. Adolphus Ekpe, disclosed this yesterday, during the 2015 Lottery Achievers Award, to mark the 10th year anniversary of lottery regulation in Nigeria held in Abuja.

Ekpe told the audience that the figure was made possible despite the daunting challenges and misconception the Commission had gone through beginning from 2005, when lottery regulation and lottery industry were not known and appreciated by the Nigerian public.

 ‘‘So far, over N5 billion has been remitted to the NLTF for the execution of good causes projects. This was possible, though with stark reality of educating the people about what lottery truly represents.

‘‘The general public was hardly aware of the existence of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission or its sister agency, the National Lottery Trust Fund in 2005. Even after five years, public perception of lottery was negative and viewed as a venture not for decent members of the society, as it was equated more with gambling,’’ said Ekpe.

Confronted with this stark reality, the DG disclosed that the Commission embarked on aggressive nationwide enlightenment, sensitization and rebranding campaigns to change the negative perception of lottery across the country, which is considered as a viable revenue source to the economy.  

‘‘We are happy to note that all the enlightenment efforts have helped in changing the perception of the general public today towards lottery business as a tool for national development,’’ he explained.

In addition to this, the NLRC henchman also stated that the Commission been able to record other milestones in the area of job creation by increasing its work force from 11 in 20015 to 1500 in 2015 in line with government’s employment agenda.

He also stated that the Commission had expanded into 14 states across the country and further granted 20 licenses to different indigenous firms with a mandate to run the business of national lottery in Nigeria.

To achieve effective and efficient monitoring and regulation of all lottery activities, the NLRC boss said the Commission had singed memorandum of understanding with the Nigerian Police, Economic and Financial Crime Commission and the Nigeria Communications Commission to combat illegal lottery operators.

For the NLRC to realize its full potential as a viable source of revenue generation that can impact the GDP significantly, he said the Commission had concluded plans to commence the automation of the monitoring and regulation of lottery in Nigeria, become the highest revenue generating agency in the country, secure enhanced salary package for its staff and move into its own office complex.

This he said is part of four four-point agenda of the Commission aimed at taking national lottery to enviable level.

Earlier in his address, the Chairman of the 10th Anniversary committee, Barr. Henry Uwadiae said the Commission was not unmindful of the potentials of lottery as a great revenue earner for the government and a potent means of infrastructural development and wealth distribution.

‘‘We have been able to educate, conscientize and disabuse public misconceptions that lottery is an honest business regulated in over 130 countries of the world to boost national economic development.

‘‘From a humble beginning in 2005, the National Lottery Commission has been able to bring lottery from the seeming obscurity to national limelight, contributing modestly to national good causes.’’

However, Uwadiae said much can be achieved if the enabling environment is created and lottery is done the right way in Nigeria.

According to him, the event was meant to review, appraise progress and appreciate the contributions of individuals, corporate organizations and stakeholders to the growth and development of lottery business in Nigeria.

He urged the award recipients to see their recognition as a clarion call for higher synergy and collaboration with the NLC in its quest to make lottery business attractive to be able to generate handsome revenue to contribute significantly to national development.

While making case for adoption of lottery as a major revenue source to the economy, Uwadiae appealed to all Nigerians to support the various initiatives by government through NLC to sanitize the lottery industry and clear the coast of illegal operators.

‘‘We must all unite together against scammers who are unrelenting in giving lottery a bad name. It is only when lottery is done with integrity that the much expected participation and by extension, revenue would be guaranteed.

‘‘We are also not unaware of the deep-rooted and huge misconceptions and negative social cultural and religious perceptions inhibiting the optimal realization of the potentials of lottery in Nigeria.

The various activities of the anniversary from the awareness road walk to the stakeholders conference and lottery exhibition, focused on how to reposition the lottery industry, turn the human capital of the nation into an economic asset, with an annual revenue yield amounting to billions of naira,’’ he added.

The theme of the 10th year anniversary is: Repositioning the Lottery Regulation in Nigeria for National Development.

Highlight of the event was presentation of awards to different recipients.

The award was classified in six categories of staff; media; meritorious service; post humous; promotes and licensees awards.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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NNPC denies involvement in $25m failed oil block deal

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Read Time:1 Minute, 33 Second

ABUJA—The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, yesterday, dissociated itself from the $25 million failed oil block bid deal by an Indian company, Oil and Natural Gas Corp-Mittal Energy Limited.

Commenting on the failed oil block bid deal, NNPC, in a statement by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, said attempts to link it with the transaction smacked of ignorance of the workings of Nigerian oil and gas industry.

He said: “Our attention has been drawn to the repeated reports linking the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, with the failed attempt by a certain Indian company, Oil and Natural Gas Corp-Mittal Energy Limited, OMEL, to acquire an oil block during the 2006/2007 oil bid round and the consequent failure to get a refund of the funds it committed to the deal.

“We wish to clarify that NNPC is not the statutory body saddled with the responsibility of organizing bid rounds and so could not have received the alleged amount of $25 million or any payment from OMEL for the transaction.

“We find the deliberate attempt to drag NNPC into the various allegations surrounding the transaction as mischievous and unfortunate.

“We urge those who are interested in the story to seek clarification with the relevant agencies responsible for conducting bid rounds and to whom OMEL may have paid the alleged fee.”

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, yesterday, mandated its committees on petroleum upstream and downstream, when constituted, to investigate the operations of the joint venture agreements with particular reference to leakages.

The House said that the yet to be constituted committee would carry out a forensic assurance review of the books to establish the amounts of income that accrued to the joint venture partners in the past seven years and actual amount remitted to the federation account.

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Broadband business very profitable in Nigeria, FG tells investors at ITU World

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Read Time:5 Minute, 38 Second

Nigeria may have taken a sizeable number of Small and Medium size Entrepreneurs, SMEs to the just concluded ITU telecom World in Budapest, Hungary, to showcase the potential of the country’s informal sector, but the opportunity that was not to be lost was that of attracting global investment community into Nigeria’s broadband market. Vanguard reliably gathered that was actually the message that resonated as the country hosted the world in a few opportunity events at the world show.

ITU Telecom world  is a meeting point for telecoms operators, regulators, other government agencies, technology equipment manufacturers and vendors as well as technology solutions providers and investors.

Every year at the apex world telecommunications event, Nigeria is given the opportunity to host participants over two events tagged Nigeria Day and Nigeria Night. Nigeria Day happens on the first or second day after the show kicked off and the Night, signposts the closing ceremony of the showpiece.

These events provide Nigeria, with the opportunity to further strengthen the already acclaimed leadership position in telecom development among emerging markets of the world. Usually, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, who represents federal government, would address the gathering, giving growth statistics of the Nigerian telecom industry and possibly highlight key investment areas to potential investors.

Memory lane

However, Vanguard gathered reliably that Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, NCC, Engr Ubale Maska represented the EVC, this year. Addressing a gathering of investors, regulators and top officials of ITU led by its Secretary General, Houlin Zhao at the Nigeria Day, Maska was said to have gone memory lane, tracing the technology journey of the country from monopolistic NITEL, paltry 400,000 lines to the present day when the country is celebrating over 150 million active telecom lines.

According to Maska, up till 2001 when the country deregulated the telecommunications industry, there were just about 400,000 active phone lines. The determination of the government and empowerment of the regulators instigated a market explosion, which has created enough ripple effects on other sectors of the economy.

Growth in statistics

Since 2001, the telecoms industry has grown significantly, seeing hordes of investors across the world directing their investment towards Nigeria. Today, the country has over 150 million active telephone lines with a teledensity of 107.67 per cent and over 93 million mobile devices connected to the Internet. Low-cost of entry of most feature smartphones as well as the reduction in access cost have also resulted in increased Internet subscriptions.

Also, Nigeria’s telecoms investment profile soars impressively. A market with an investment value of about $50 million in 2000 is worth over $32 billion at the moment. However, a large number of Internet users do so at high cost and even don’t have access to the high-speed Internet service

Meanwhile, Nigeria currently has a target of 30 per cent broadband penetration by 2018 in line with its National Broadband Policy (NBP) approved by the Federal Government in 2013. Till date, broadband penetration stands at 10 per cent up from six per cent two years ago, suggesting that penetration is still very low when compared with the success so far recorded in the mobile telephony segment.

Why Investment is needed

Despite the landing of over 10 terabyte of undersea cables in the country shores,  broadband is still very low. Only in major cities such as Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt among others can one enjoy a semblance of broadband.

These are indications that growth, notwithstanding, the Nigerian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry is still in need of a lot of investment.

Director, Policy, Competition and Economic Analysis, Ms. Josephine Amuwa, however, had revealed how the government planned to use the 2015 ITU show to attract that investment.  She said: “The key message we bought to ITU this year is the issue of our broadband expansion. Broadband is the future, as there is hardly anything one seeks to do in today’s digital economy more efficiently and effectively without access to the Internet.

“Access and broadband are the infrastructures that enable high-speed Internet, video streaming and other heavy data. Since we have conquered voice with over 150 million subscribers in Nigeria, the new phase is the broadband and that was one key message that we passed to the whole world here during our Opening Day. “We told investors to come and invest in Nigeria with the assurances that their investment is safe and the investment we are looking for majorly is the investment in broadband infrastructure.”

Besides,  global consultancy firm, KPMG, last year projected that Nigeria would over the next five years, need to push for an average investment of N2 billion annually into its telecoms sector towards building a robust next-generation broadband network nationwide. This projection represents a cumulative investment of about $10 billion in the next five years.

Even on the mobile segment investment is also need. The mobile operators on ground, including MTN,   Airtel, Glo and Etisalat and the licensed collocations service providers currently have just over 30,000 base stations from the minimum of 70,000 base stations requirement estimated in 2002. This may also explain the congestion subscribers suffer and the poor quality of service experienced. It also reinforces the fact that the country needs roughly more than half of the infrastructure it currently has.

Incentives

Nigeria also went a step further to promise potential investors of incentives that would immediately translate to Return on Investments, ROI. According to the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, “Nigeria currently has a lot of incentives for investors willing to participate in the nation’s broadband sector. Besides relaxed regulatory environment which has been acclaimed as one of the best in the world, Nigeria is still making plans to see that the tax regime is favourable to investors”

The Zhao challenge

After listening to Nigeria’s gospel of broadband investment, the ITU sec Gen, Zhao practically endorsed it. “Nigeria and other African nations today are not looking for charity; they are looking for partnership and investment opportunities to grow their telecoms sector. “Chinese and European companies are coming to Nigeria, as my discussions recently with some investors have indicated.

I would encourage Nigeria to work harder to lure these potential investors into your country, which is the largest African country. ITU can also be of assistance to you by facilitating this partnership with foreign investors,”. He also noted that the fact that Nigeria is now championing 4G broadband when most developed countries still grapple with 2G is a good justification this need for increased investment inflow by the country’s regulator.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria, others lost $4bn to shady oil deals – GLOBAL WITNESS

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Read Time:1 Minute, 30 Second

International transparency group, Global Witness, yester-day, stated that Nigeria, Angola, Republic of Congo and the Democra-tic Republic of Congo lost about $4 billion (N800 billion) in shady oil and mining deals.

Global Witness, in a recently released report, disclosed that anonymous companies facilitated the loss of national wealth on an epic scale, while it questioned the role of international oil companies that facilitate such deals.

The report revealed how oil and mining assets worth $4 billion have been allocated to companies whose ownership is obscure.

According to the report, in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, lucrative oil and mining licences were awarded to companies with hidden owners, diverting vast resource revenues to unknown private pockets.

It added that in the Republic of Congo, a company whose beneficiaries remain uncertain – and which has historical connections to high ranking public officials — has recently received lucrative stakes in several oil fields.

Specifically, Global Witness put Nigeria’s loss at $1.1 billion, which, according to the report, was the price agreed with an anonymous company for the OPL 245 oil block, of which Italian prosecutors claim $533 million was fingered to pay bribes.

The report put the loss to Democratic Republic of Congo at $1.36 billion, which was the value lost from just five mining deals and which was almost twice the DRC’s annual spending on health and education combined.

Angola lost $1.3 billion which was the value of part of an oil field interest sold back to the state by a company secretly owned by top officials, while the Republic of Congo lost $20 million, being the estimated value of an oil field interest won by a company previously exposed for payments to offshore companies owned on trust for the ruling elite.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Consumer credit and mortgage financing can help fight corruption

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Read Time:5 Minute, 4 Second

Working in Nigeria is quite interesting and as well, very challenging. Public sector workers have to use their meagre salaries to fend for themselves, their immediate   and extended families. In a country where the minimum wage is N18, 000 per month and the rate of inflation runs sky high, the average Nigerian public sector worker finds it challenging and begins to cut corners to meet up with his daily expenses. There is no efficient and subsidised transport system, no functional housing scheme to guarantee the workers’ welfare.

So, naturally, in a bid to meet up with their counterparts in the private sector, they cut corners, compromise their offices and take bribes to bend the rules. It is only in Nigeria that you have to save about N5million to buy a car and pay cash.

It is only in Nigeria also that you have to save and build your house, paying cash to the contractors. In other places, consumer credit and mortgage financing are developed to assist the individuals to own properties and pay over a long period of time.

In many of the countries we borrowed democracy from, their citizens hardly build houses by themselves. There are mortgage institutions and housing companies that build houses and give them out to workers on mortgage financing basis. Workers who own such houses are conscious of the fact that they have to pay their mortgage on monthly basis or be thrown out.

Such workers are committed to their jobs because losing such jobs means they cannot afford a home. So, they become dedicated. But what do you have here?

Millions of Nigerians are without homes and no hope of ever owning one. When such individuals come in contact with avenues to make money, they go all out. That is why some members of the National Assembly are all out to make money in whatever way, without considering the plight of the ordinary man on the street who they claim to represent.

This is why some civil servants steal the nation blind. Worse still, political   appointees are given free cars, housing and feeding and almost every other thing is free. Such individuals having attained a certain level of standard of living they never dreamt of do everything in their power to ensure they secure their future. Hence, corruption is at its highest level in the civil service.

Also, consumer credit in developed society has helped workers to be focused and own whatever they want without stealing from the treasury. In those societies, you only need to show proof that you are gainfully employed. The banks will finance needed household equipment, car and any other thing that will make life comfortable for the worker. But the reverse is the case here.

You have to save to buy a car, build a house, and do everything for yourself. This has become part of the Nigerian culture such that Nigerians are naturally adverse to loans and advances. Nigerians have developed an attitude towards credit as if it is a taboo. Credit helps society and economy to grow. It puts money in the hands of individuals who ordinarily will not have had the means of making certain purchases.

It stimulates demand for goods and services and encourages manufacturers to produce more and thus ensure job creation. Nigeria is a nation with massive unemployment; a developed consumer credit scheme can trigger massive demand for goods and services that will encourage production and job creation. The mortgage system is yet another channel through which Nigeria can stimulate the economy and create jobs.

The demand for housing and mortgage in Nigeria is vast. Nigeria at the moment has a housing deficit of 17 million units and it is adding to that at the rate of two million houses per year. That is on the demand side. The housing supply side in any economy is a very strong driver of economic growth, if properly handled. There are so many linkages within the economy as regards housing employment.

Once an economy starts driving the housing and construction sector, it will employ carpenters, welders, masons, interior decorators, etc.  It is a whole lot of linkages. In any economy, this is a perfect instrument for job creation. This is exactly why the USA monitors housing gaps every month. One of the key indicators is how many houses have been built, how many old houses have been purchased. An index measures the movement of housing crisis within the economy.

This is a regime of change, Nigeria’s new policy makers should realise that this is an instrument of job creation and economic growth. Last year , in Washington, the former Minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy, Dr. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, told reporters that Nigeria has decided to add more access and liquidity on mortgagee financing through the creation of a mortgage refinancing institution that will be mainly private sector held. She said that government will only be a motivator and will have a small share in it.

The partners, she disclosed, are the banks, which is why the CBN has a key role in it. The CBN is a partner. Nigeria, she said, will be looking for other investors. The document has been prepared to attract domestic and foreign investors into the housing sector. The World Bank is a strong partner as it is providing $300 million of liquidity facility at concessional rate of zero per cent, commitment charge of 0.7 per cent, 10 years of grace and 40 years repayment period to help us do this.

Six states – Lagos, FCT, Bauchi, Niger, and Anambra – were said to have volunteered to pioneer the mortgage project.  How far the last regime went is not so clear now. This government should see this as an instrument that could help the nation in its war against corruption and adopt it. What ever is the bottleneck in the drive toward a credible credit system and migrating financing should be handled with dispatch and give every Nigerian a sense of belonging.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Banks’ credit to oil & gas crowds out other sectors

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Read Time:3 Minute, 14 Second

Credit allocation by banks have shown that the bulk of their loans in the past two years went to oil and gas sector to the detriment of other sectors. The sector attracted over 26 per cent of the total bank loans to the economy despite its relative low contribution of about 11.2 per cent to the economy’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, suggesting a crowding out of other productive sectors of the economy. For instance, the agriculture sector which contributed more than 20 per cent to the nation’s GDP last year received only 4.4 per cent of total credit allocation in 2014.

This indicates a disturbing misalignment in credit structure of Nigeria’s banking industry when compared to other countries in the MINT (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) economic bloc as well as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Singapore) economic bloc where banks’ lending structures tilt, though with differentials, in favour of sectors with greater contributions to GDP which mirrors dynamics of the stages of growth and development, economic structure, financial sector framework and banking regulations in the respective countries.

The Nigeria’s structure has, however, come to hurt the banking industry as the plunge in global oil prices put their non-performing loan ratio, NPL, at border line. Afrinvest Group banking survey released recently revealed that tier-2 banks are more exposed to the oil and gas sector, with the banks allocating 27.4 per cent of their gross loans to the sector relative to tier-1 banks’ 26.5 per cent. Afrinvest said ‘’the preference is based on high revenue/profitability upside, stronger cash flow and developed supportive infrastructures that have lowered risk perception”.

It added, ‘’however, the current challenges of lower crude oil prices has significantly weakened the assets quality of banks, with Oil and Gas related NPLs contributing the highest average of 12.7 per cent to NPL ratio across banks. “Our prognosis is that lending structure in the next decade should reflect the changing economic structure in Nigeria, thus we expect banks to take advantage of the faster growth and expanding opportunities in the non-oil sectors of the economy”, the report said.

“We believe banks will need to moderate credit to the Mining/Natural Resources sector while directing to the utilities, manufacturing and services (including household, real estate, education, health, transport and communication) sectors in line with the overall macroeconomic outlook of the country and in furtherance of the recent drive to boost non-oil revenue by the new administration.

“ We believe banking in the next decade should focus on re-allocating risk assets by tapping into lending opportunities in the non-oil oil sector. However, we do not expect banks to reduce funding of the oil and gas sector, rather, we expect banks to deepen funding structure to grow their presence in non-oil sectors”. Within the tier-1 group of banks Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, at 33 per cent, had the highest proportion of loans to the oil and gas sector in 2014 while First Bank of Nigeria followed with 32 per cent.

Other banks in the tier-1 group that were exposed to the sector include Access Bank, Zenith Bank and United Bank for Africa, UBA. Within the tier-2 group Sterling Bank was leading with 35.4 per cent exposure to oil and gas followed by Skye Bank, Union Bank and FCMB.

Afrinvest suggests that Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, should review its prudential guidelines to come up with a maximum threshold regarding banks’ exposure to single sector as a proportion of banks’ shareholders’ funds. This, according to them, would be in addition to the existing threshold which measures banks’ lending to a single sector as a proportion of the total loan.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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